We already knew that extension talks between the Lakers and Dennis Schröder had hit an impasse. It was pretty easy to guess, given that the team was including his in trade offers, and The Athletic reported explicitly in the aftermath of the Lakers’ unconsummated deal for Kyle Lowry that Schröder and the team were “far apart” in contract negotiations.
What we didn’t know, however, is how much the Lakers were offering. The max they’re allowed to give Schröder right now during the season is a four-year, approximately $84 million deal. And according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN during the latest episode of his “The Hoop Collective” podcast, the Lakers offered it, although there is some necessary context we still don’t know (h/t Lakers Outsiders for the transcript, emphasis mine)
“The maximum he can sign for is 4 years and $84 million if he totally maxes out what he’s able to do on an extension…what I’ve been told, and this rumor is pretty widely out there so I doubt this is very surprising, is that the Lakers did indeed offer him that $84 million over four years. Now, this is where we get into a gray area – was it guaranteed, was it partially guaranteed, were there incentives, I don’t know – but I believe he was offered a contract in that realm and he said ‘no’ to it.”
Marc Stein of the New York Times confirmed that report in his latest newsletter:
Schröder, 27, was available because of the gulf between player and team in contract extension talks. He has rebuffed extension offers from the Lakers in the range of $80 million over four years, according to two people familiar with the discussions who were not authorized to discuss them publicly.
Schröder has consistently maintained that he wants to stay with the Lakers, but wants to test free agency first, and that he wants whatever deal he signs next year to be “fair” for both sides.
The Athletic reported that what Schröder and his camp see as fair is a deal that would pay him more than $20 million annually. The Lakers almost literally can’t offer that right now if Schröder wants much more than $20 million, however, as I broke down in my initial story on that report:
The Lakers can currently offer him a maximum starting salary of $18.6 million, the total value of which would be approximately $83 million over four years (starting next season).
So if over $20 million annually is something Schröder wants in each year of his deal, he’ll have to wait until the offseason, when the Lakers will have his bird rights and can go over the cap to offer him up to the maximum salary for players of 7-9 years of experience: 30% of the cap, which would be $32 million this season.
DISCLAIMER: I feel comfortable saying there is absolutely zero chance the Lakers will offer Schröder the full max, but that is just to illustrate that they can in theory offer more in the summer than they can right now, giving them more wiggle room in negotiations than exists currently.
And again, the other key here — as Windhorst notes — is that we don’t know if the Lakers ever truly got up to the full max. Was all the money guaranteed? Were there incentives? We may not ever get the full story. What we do know, however, is that the way all of it has gone has pretty much inevitably led to Schröder heading towards unrestricted free agency this summer with a desire to test the market.
That doesn’t mean he’s leaving — the Lakers can still offer him more than anyone else — but it does leave the door open for the purple and gold losing a key contributor for nothing, with no easy way to replace him. And the team’s actions in almost shipping Schröder out at the deadline (in part) over how poorly negotiations had gone so far doesn’t exactly paint a rosy picture for a future together, even if — in theory — they can still extend him at any point between now and free agency this summer.
Still, time (and winning) heals all, so if the Lakers’ season goes the way they hope in part because Schröder played like a $20 million-plus player, one can bet the Lakers will offer him what he’s worth in free agency. Until then, however, it does seem like all signs are pointing to these discussions being tabled.